if you don't have it, things stop...progressing. if you have too much, things might move too quickly. those things, along with your cardiovascular health and your ability to keep cholesterol levels healthy, are important elements of a healthy life. when your gastrointestinal system is happy, the rest of you is likely happy as well. it's a sign that your diet and your lifestyle is in balance.
lately, i've been trying to make small choices to include more fibrous foods into my life. right now, my stomach has been less than serene and calm, so anything i can do to calm the hormonal tide, the better. according to dieticians, we women should be aiming for 25 grams of fiber a day, at the minimum; if you have particular health-related challenges, you might need to up that number a bit. these numbers and these statistics can seem daunting. but making fiber a more conscious part of your eating decisions is actually probably not as difficult as you might think.
the easy choices are things that shout at you from the television commercials or from the bread aisle: you can choose a yogurt, for example, that contains extra fiber (i am a fan of the fiber one yogurts, to be honest--they are snack-size and 50 calories with a whopping 5 grams of fiber per serving) or a whole wheat bread that has double the fiber (my current bread contains 5 grams and 50 calories a slice). these are easy ways to incorporate some extra doses of fiber into your life.
but the smartest choices are the ones that you can make from whole foods: grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. this is where i usually get a bit out of my element, and begin thinking that eating fiber-rich foods means that i have to eat bran.
it's not true!
did you know, for example, that these beautiful babies have 8 grams of fiber in a 1 cup serving?
|image courtesy of theraspberrypatch.com|
another option is beans. if you're feeling cuban, go for black beans, which have a whopping 15 grams of fiber in a one cup serving (which is approximately 280 calories, which may seem like quite a lot, but one cup of black beans goes a LONG way toward a series of delicious burritos).
|image courtesy of http://www.whatscookingamerica.net/|
but, you may be surprised to know that pinto beans have the same amount of fiber as black beans. this brings joy to my heart, since fat free refried pinto beans (granted, not exactly the same, but close enough to make me happy) are about the only source of protein that makes me routinely happy right now.
these may seem like the obvious choices--fruit and beans. but did you know that the usual suspects in american diets actually can be high fiber heroes? here are some easy ways to incorporate fiber-rich foods into your diet without twisting yourself into a pretzel:
- throw some fiber into your casserole! frozen green peas contain 14 grams for a one cup portion.
- steam in some gastrointestinal health: one cup of cooked broccoli (a superfood for folate and vitamin c as well) contains 5 grams of fiber and one cup of zucchini contains 3 grams.
- bake up some fiber! one medium russet potato (who doesn't love a good baked potato) contains 4 grams.
- grab a fruity fiber snack: an apple, pear, banana, or orange will add between 3 and 5 grams of fiber to your daily intake.